Panhandlers an issue at Wythe County exits Print

According to Sherriff Doug King, a prominent issue has arouse at I-81 exits 77, 80, 84 and 86 in Wythe County. “Panhandlers” have become a frequent occurrence and visitors of these exits are advised to be aware of the problem.

“Panhandlers” are those individuals who make a steady income by begging for money from passersby. King said many of the individuals who have stationed themselves along Wythe County exits of I-81 often have large amounts of money already in their pockets, up to $400.

One individual county deputies have approached even had a commercially made sign asking for money. Most who the deputies ask to move along have cars parked in near by lots and drive back to their homes in other states, including West Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

In addition, many of the individuals who the deputies encounter turn up criminal backgrounds when their information is run through the system.

The presence of these panhandlers bring many safety issues not only for the panhandlers themselves, but also for the individuals encountering them.

“I’m not saying everyone out there is a professional bum,” advised King.

In fact, the department has a program for those stranded or in serious financial need who they encounter on the exits. The program involves deputies handing out vouchers for the individuals to stay at a hotel for a night or get gas. However, the program is closely monitored to make sure those such as panhandlers do not take advantage of the system.

Currently there is no ordinance in Wythe County regarding loitering. The only option for persecution would be to put the individuals in jail, which would cost the county money.

At the Nov. 22, 2011 meeting of the Wythe County Board of Supervisors, King suggested the board have the county attorney look into passing a no loitering ordinance so other means of reprimand can be taken against such individuals, such as tickets and fines.


For specific information regarding this issues, please contact the Wythe County Sherriff’s Office at 276-223-6001.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 February 2012 08:33